Should You Care About How Your Personal Trainer Looks?
As humans, we are wired to observe the physical appearance of a person when we first meet them. This is a mechanism used to perceive a checklist of traits each individual may or may not interact with well or to perceive danger or safety.
Unfortunately, as humans, we can train ourselves to make judgements only based on the physical appearance of someone without taking the time to explore the layers underneath.
The fitness industry is no different. You only have to look at social media and the hordes of images vlogs, videos of fit people doing cool things and people on their fitness journeys. It is very easy for us to look at the fit and healthy physique of someone and comment ‘they must know what they are doing’ and can take that mindset when looking for a Personal Trainer. But is just the Physique of your trainer the only or most important factor in finding a trainer?
With almost 20 years in the fitness industry I have seen my fair share of good and let's be kind, not so good personal trainers, so let’s explore what those 20 years have found when observing the physical appearance of personal trainers vs their competence as a trainer.
I want to start in a different direction and lay a foundation for you. Think about your favourite sport or sporting players over the years that have come and gone. They retire and still enjoy the sport they participated in, so make the decision to become a coach. So I think we can agree that they are skilled and knowledgeable about the sport in which they are going to coach. Now a good percentage of the time and not in all circumstances the sports star put on a little weight as they transition into life after the full-time training regime. Have they been hired for his or her physical appearance? Or the skills and knowledge they possess? Extending from this point the coaches services are retained if they can transition those skills and knowledge and improve the performance of the people in which they coach as well as having social skills to earn their trust and friendship.
So what makes a good personal trainer? Should a fit, healthy appearance be a significant factor in working with a trainer?
From my example about the sports star converting to a coach and selecting a personal trainer, there are similarities in the selection criteria. We all want to believe that all trainers and coaches have the same knowledge base and skill set to assist in you achieving your specific goals, but that is not the case. We would also like to believe that each personal trainer practices their craft and exercises themselves, setting and achieving fitness goals, whether it be sports specific or health specific. And this evidence would be physically visible in their appearance. So yes there is an element of 'proof' a personal trainer needs to possess concerning a fit, healthy looking body. But it should not stop there. For example, let's look at a point in time where a personal trainer’s physique may not look fit and healthy. Naturally, this may have a particular effect on how others perceive them.
Like anyone, a personal trainer can injure themselves, and the extent of the injury can have both an emotional and physical effect on the trainer. Leading to them reducing the level of training sessions they participate in, maybe indulge in a little comfort eating, but does this limit the knowledge and skill they possess and eliminate the positive results their clients achieved through their service?
Women, on the other hand, have an experience of their own in pregnancy and post-partum events. This stage in life can come with unexpected issues that can be out of their control. Post-partum depression can alter their body’s ability to bounce back from pregnancy, significantly affecting their ability to get back to training. This stage has no set time frame and is different for each woman.
So if you were meeting this trainer during this time and you were judging their ability to be an effective trainer on their physique, then this could be a misjudgement.
There are plenty of situations where a personal trainer's physique can be altered, and a person’s perception of the trainer’s knowledgeability and past successes with clients could be impacted negatively within a few moments based on their physical appearance.
So to sum up, yes a part of our decision when selecting a personal trainer should be on the physique. But more importantly, the proven results of their clients and how they conduct themselves as a person and a business should take precedent. Some fantastic looking personal trainers fall short in imparting their knowledge and skills to their clients, and this has more to do with personality and skillset. When looking for a personal trainer, try to look past appearances and focus on what you want from a personal trainer instead. When spending time and money a trainer’s job is to guide their clients in weight loss, strength gains, increasing energy levels and this can be achieved through a trainer’s knowledge and skill over just their physique.
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